The head of forces fighting the government of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in eastern Libya has confirmed that more than one dozen rebel troops were killed Friday in an air strike by the international coalition enforcing a no-fly zone in the country.
The spokesman of the opposition National Transition Council, Abdel-Hafidh Ghoga, Saturday confirmed that the attack occurred near the town of Brega, 800 kilometers east of Tripoli.
He says during the airstrikes by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) against the Gadhafi forces 13 soldiers were killed and seven were wounded.
He called it an unfortunate accident and said the opposition had conferred with NATO commanders on ways to prevent it from happening again.
NATO said it was investigating the incident.
Opposition forces for days have been battling pro-Gadhafi troops along a 500-kilometer stretch of coastline between the Libyan leader’s home town of Sirte and the opposition stronghold of Benghazi, 1,000 kilometers east of Tripoli.
Benghazi nearly fell to the Gadhafi forces two weeks ago but an opposition counter-offensive, backed by air strikes against tanks and heavy artillery of the Gadhafi forces, took the rebels to the outskirts of Sirte.
They were beaten back and since then the battle has raged around two oil-producing towns in between, Brega and Ras Lanuf.
Government forces also continue to pound with artillery shells and sniper fire Libya’s third largest city, Misrata, 150 kilometers east of Tripoli.
The head of the opposition Council, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil , Friday proposed a ceasefire after meeting with the United Nations special envoy to Libya. But the proposal said government troops must first withdraw from cities they now control and end their siege of areas under rebel control.
The Tripoli government rejected the proposal calling it a trick that did not offer peace.
NATO Thursday took over command of the no-fly zone operation which was launched two weeks ago by France, Britain and the United States.
The United Nations authorized the operation amid reports that pro-Gadhafi forces were targeting civilians in their campaign to re-take territory lost during a six week-long popular uprising against Colonel Gadhafi’s 41-year rule.